Schenectady County

$4.5M grant to aid Hamilton Elementary, struggling students

Hamilton Elementary School will be able to provide three years of additional services to its student

Hamilton Elementary School will be able to provide three years of additional services to its students as the result of federal funding announced on Friday.

The Schenectady school will receive $4.5 million from the latest round of $126 million in school improvement money being distributed by the state to low-performing schools. Hamilton Elementary qualified for a transformation model grant because it recently replaced its principal and has agreed to remove ineffective teachers based on their performance in the new statewide teacher evaluation system.

According to Schenectady City School District Superintendent Laurence Spring, projects eyed for funding with the money include partnerships with outside agencies to address students’ mental health issues and additional reading services for kids.

“We should be able to provide some pretty specialized additional reading service to just about every student in that school,” he said. “We should see some pretty significant results in that school pretty quickly.”

State Education Commissioner John B. King Jr. said School Improvement Grants, like the one going to Hamilton Elementary, is about giving students an opportunity to succeed in a struggling school.

“Many English language learners, students with disabilities, and low-income students are in schools that need to change,” King said in a statement. “SIG grants can help give those students the opportunity to attend schools that are changing what’s happening in the classroom. Our goal is to prepare all students to graduate college and career ready.”

Other schools in need

While the students directly impacted by this funding will likely show continued improvement in their education careers, especially with reading,

Spring noted that it doesn’t represent a permanent and all-encompassing solution, as there are 18 schools in the district. He said the district needs to find systemic support for the reading issues, mental health concerns and other challenges students face outside of school.

“We’re going to have to find other ways to address those needs,” he said.

Part of the solution, in his opinion, is an increase in state education aid to the district so it can provide services on a permanent basis. But even a bump in aid likely wouldn’t pay for all the resources, like therapists for depressed students.

A similar grant worth nearly $3.9 million was recently announced for Amsterdam’s William B. Tecler Arts in Education School, which also must make significant changes.

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